Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Sigmund Freud remembered all his life the disgust and bitter disappointment he felt as a boy of ten years when hearing that his father refused to defend himself against the anti-Semite bullies who pushed him off the side walk of his home town, suggesting that a Jew should not walk on the side walks and leave it for the self righteous Nazis. This framed his spiritual struggle for the whole of his life that can be considered as a conflict between his Jewish identity possibly his faith and the anti-Semite Christian majority of the time.
His journey in psychoanalysis can be framed and understood by reviewing achievements and academic career of Jean-Martin Charcot. “Diseases can be caused by ideas” said Charcot and it heralded a new era in human understanding. This laid the foundation of Psychology, an identity separate from Neurology which was rooted in physical causes. Charcot, a French neurologist was the founder (with Guillaume Duchenne) of modern neurology and one of France’s greatest medical teachers and clinicians. He became a professor at the University of Paris (1860–93), where he began a lifelong association with the Salpêtrière Hospital; there, in 1882, he opened what was to become the greatest neurological clinic of the time in Europe. A teacher of extraordinary competence, he attracted students from all parts of the world. In 1885 one of his students was Sigmund Freud, and it was Charcot’s employment of hypnosis in an attempt to discover basis for hysteria that stimulated Freud’s interest in the psychological origins of neurosis. Charcot was the “foremost neurologist of late nineteenthcentury France” and has been called “the Napoleon of the neuroses.”
Read further: Freudian conflicts and slips